CACI No. 1600. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress—Essential Factual Elements

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2017 edition)

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1600.Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress—Essential
Factual Elements
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant]’s conduct caused [him/
her] to suffer severe emotional distress. To establish this claim, [name of
plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was outrageous;
2. [That [name of defendant] intended to cause [name of plaintiff]
emotional distress;]
2. [or]
2. [That [name of defendant] acted with reckless disregard of the
probability that [name of plaintiff] would suffer emotional
distress, knowing that [name of plaintiff] was present when the
conduct occurred;]
3. That [name of plaintiff] suffered severe emotional distress; and
4. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in
causing [name of plaintiff]’s severe emotional distress.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
CACI Nos. 1602–1604, regarding the elements of intentional infliction of
emotional distress, should be given with this instruction.
Depending on the facts of the case, a plaintiff could choose one or both of the
bracketed choices in element 2.
Sources and Authority
• “A cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress exists when
there is ‘(1) extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with the intention
of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing, emotional
distress; (2) the plaintiff’s suffering severe or extreme emotional distress; and
(3) actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress by the defendant’s
outrageous conduct.’ A defendant’s conduct is ‘outrageous’ when it is so
‘extreme as to exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized
community.’ And the defendant’s conduct must be ‘intended to inflict injury or
engaged in with the realization that injury will result.’ ” (Hughes v. Pair (2009)
46 Cal.4th 1035, 1050–1051 [95 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 209 P.3d 963])
• “[T]he trial court initially determines whether a defendant’s conduct may
reasonably be regarded as so extreme and outrageous as to permit recovery.
Where reasonable men can differ, the jury determines whether the conduct has
been extreme and outrageous to result in liability. Otherwise stated, the court
determines whether severe emotional distress can be found; the jury determines
whether on the evidence it has, in fact, existed.” (Plotnik v. Meihaus (2012) 208
Cal.App.4th 1590, 1614 [146 Cal.Rptr.3d 585].)
• “ ‘[I]t is generally held that there can be no recovery for mere profanity,
obscenity, or abuse, without circumstances of aggravation, or for insults,
indignities or threats which are considered to amount to nothing more than mere
annoyances.’ ” (Yurick v. Superior Court (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 1116, 1128
[257 Cal.Rptr. 665], internal citations omitted.)
• “It is not enough that the conduct be intentional and outrageous. It must be
conduct directed at the plaintiff, or occur in the presence of a plaintiff of whom
the defendant is aware.” (Christensen v. Superior Court (1991) 54 Cal.3d 868,
903–904 [2 Cal.Rptr.2d 79, 820 P.2d 181].)
• “Severe emotional distress [is] emotional distress of such substantial quantity or
enduring quality that no reasonable man in a civilized society should be
expected to endure it.” (Fletcher v. Western Life Insurance Co. (1970) 10
Cal.App.3d 376, 397 [89 Cal.Rptr. 78].)
• “ ‘The law limits claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress to
egregious conduct toward plaintiff proximately caused by defendant.’ The only
exception to this rule is that recognized when the defendant is aware, but acts
with reckless disregard of, the plaintiff and the probability that his or her
conduct will cause severe emotional distress to that plaintiff. Where reckless
disregard of the plaintiff’s interests is the theory of recovery, the presence of the
plaintiff at the time the outrageous conduct occurs is recognized as the element
establishing a higher degree of culpability which, in turn, justifies recovery of
greater damages by a broader group of plaintiffs than allowed on a negligent
infliction of emotional distress theory.” (Christensen, supra, 54 Cal.3d at pp.
905–906, internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 451–454
Croskey et al., California Practice Guide: Insurance Litigation, Ch. 11-E,
Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress, ¶ 11:61 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 44, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,
§ 44.01 (Matthew Bender)
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 362, Mental Suffering and
Emotional Distress, § 362.10 (Matthew Bender)
15 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 153, Mental Suffering and Emotional
Distress, § 153.20 et seq. (Matthew Bender)

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